Friday, June 3, 2011

Paying It Forward...Wholeheartedly

When Scott and I decided to go into business for ourselves, I had visions of being in better shape financially than we’ve ever been. We had some money in the bank, and had even made some financial commitments just to help others out; I wanted to continue giving, but at the same time, live comfortably and completely debt-free. Scott kept saying, “I’m not looking to get rich, here; I just want to make enough to provide for my family.” I kept thinking, “Why not? When you work for someone else, your earning potential is limited by someone else. We are limited only by how hard we choose to work. Let’s work!” The more Scott and I talked about it, the more we prayed about it, the more my vision improved. My prayer became, “Lord, help us to make enough that we can continue to help others.”

The weeks began to pass, and the jobs didn’t come. Our savings dwindled more and more each day. “But I prayed for the right things,” I thought. “Yes, but was your heart truly in the right place?” came the reply.

As Scott arrived home after giving yet another estimate, he awakened me to tell me about his experience. In the morning when my head was a little less foggy, our conversation came back to me: His concern for his customer’s safety in the situation. His recommendation to include some extra work just to be sure the job is done correctly. His willingness to take a hit on labor just to “help them out.” I was once again, overwhelmed by Scott’s heart for others. This was his way of helping others. He was happy to be giving of himself to make sure those who didn’t have the time or the talent could have what he considers the basic necessities. The tide had shifted. In our season of financial plenty, we wrote checks. In our season of labor, we give our time, our talent – we give of ourselves to make sure the message of Christ’s love spreads to others.

Thursday, June 2, 2011


I've worked some variation of night work for a good many years.  Certain aspects of it are, admittedly, not great.  But I love being home all day with my family; I am a morning person, so I like being able to get things done nice and early.  One of the drawbacks however, is the sleep issue.  In the spring and summer, it's difficult to sleep with the sun blasting through my bedroom window at five in the afternoon.  In the winter, rising at 1:30 to temperatures in the teens, is unappealing, to say the least.  And somehow, even with seven or more hours of sleep, I rarely feel completely rested.  In fact, my breaking point came sometime when my children were relatively young -- I gave one of them medicine, and for the life of me, I never knew I'd done it.  When I awoke after an average night's sleep (almost five hours) they told me one of them had been sick, came into my room complaining, and I promptly marched them to the medicine cabinet where I gave them (Thank God) the correct dose of whatever.  It was then I decided it was time to get more sleep or switch my shift.  Today, if I'm disciplined, I can get seven hours fairly regularly.

I don't doubt my physical health suffered from my lack of sleep; I know my mental health was less than what it should have been.  I was irritable and depressed; my memory was poor.  These days they call it Shift Work Sleep Disorder (Apparently there's a disorder for just about everything -- who knew?  My mother used to call it being fussy, and make us take a nap.).  Cool thing is, I was not only made aware of the problem, but a possible solution -- NUVIGIL.  Perhaps I'm treading on some large drug corporation's toes, but have you heard the commercials for this stuff?  Side Effects, people. Side.  Effects.

From their website: 

"NUVIGIL may cause serious side effects including a serious rash or a serious allergic reaction that may affect parts of your body such as your liver or blood cells, and may result in hospitalization and be life-threatening. If you develop a skin rash, hives, sores in your mouth, blisters, swelling, peeling, or yellowing of the skin or eyes, trouble swallowing or breathing, dark urine, or fever, stop taking NUVIGIL and call your doctor right away or get emergency help.

Stop taking NUVIGIL and call your doctor or get emergency help if you get any of the following serious side effects:
  • Mental (psychiatric) symptoms, including: depression, feeling anxious, sensing things that are not really there, increase in activity (mania), thoughts of suicide, aggression, or other mental problems
  • Symptoms of a heart problem, including: chest pain, abnormal heart beat, and trouble breathing
Common side effects of NUVIGIL are headache, nausea, dizziness, and trouble sleeping. These are not all the side effects of NUVIGIL. "

Life threatening?  Depression -- "I was depressed before.  Because I didn't sleep.  That's why I went to the doctor!"  Sensing things that are not really there.  Really? And this is an improvement over drugging your sick kid in your sleep, how?  Mania?  Trouble sleeping?

Call me reckless, but I'll pass.  If you need me, I'll be on the sofa.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Guy Talk

So, here we are again, another exciting Saturday at work.  The dawn has broken over the gray green waters of the Delaware, the sun is struggling to burn through the layer of smog and carcinogens belching from the stack directly opposite my window, and I am chained to the “community desk” listening to coworkers pontificate on everything from plumbers glue to navel oranges to Van Johnson. 

I’m not the overly inquisitive type.  I don’t pass through a metal detector and wonder why it detects certain types of metals and completely ignores others (yeah, I know – phase shifting, resistance, magnets – whatever).  And it simply never occurred to me to wonder what a truck driver does when he is on the road for 10 or more hours a day, all alone, sometimes with no radio.  Well, let me tell you – he, or she, goes stark raving mad!  Now, I’m not trying to be sexist or anything, but female drivers generally seem to hold up a little better under these conditions than their male counterparts.  I did question this, and I believe it is due to their roles outside of work. 

Women are nurturers, therefore, I don’t care how many hours a week Mom works, she knows how to handle the incessant needs of her children, their relentless demands for justice, and their endless bids for attention.  She multi-tasks; she tunes out.  And the first chance she gets to revel in the most minuscule periods of peace and quiet – she goes for it.

Men, however?  Well, Ladies, don’t let ‘em fool you, when it comes to the gift of gab, men are the primary beneficiaries.  Women may communicate in ways that better capture their feelings or the creative aspects of an issue, but men just say it – and say it a lot!  Quiet seems to drive them to the brink of insanity.  Look at the number of men that can’t function without the drone of the television.  My father would fall asleep in his recliner, impervious to my mother’s screams over the MMA fight my brother and I had going mere inches from his feet, but touch the power button on the blaring television…  It was like an explosion had gone off under his Lazy Boy.

Until I began working day in and day out with men – specifically, drivers I had no idea what went on at seventy miles an hour.  Silly me, I thought they were actually driving.  No, Young Grasshopper, there are thought processes occurring that I can’t even begin to describe.  My husband is a prime example; though based on some of his childhood antics, I would guess he had a propensity toward unique cerebral exercise from the jump.  As for my additional experience?  Well, I am one of the folks fortunate enough to pick up the phone after the driver’s long trek through our nation’s interstate network.  As the driver approaches civilization for the first time in five hours or more, he unleashes a barrage of the most vulgar, twisted or nonsensical thought upon the first set of ears lucky enough to meet his voice.  Thoughts that have been germinating in the solitude of a climate controlled tractor barreling down the road right next to you, Innocent Motorist.  (And if the climate control isn’t working?  Oooh, it’s such a bad thing for brain function.  Picture Tetris Level 29 firing toward you.)  Then, as if his thoughts have somehow increased exponentially from the time we hung up until he reaches the office, he will drop another word bomb on his next unsuspecting quarry, or choose to reclaim my attention, his “catch of the day.”  I used to think solitary confinement was a good choice for problem prisoners; based on personal observation, I can't imagine eventually unleashing such a barrage of warped thought on General Population and calling it a success.  

Don't get me wrong, so many of my co-workers are knowledgeable, well-travelled, and extremely helpful.  But just once I'd like to navigate the ebb and flow of my day without a lecture on retreads, a cautionary tale on the reality of laughing yourself to death, a debate between Tony Luke's and John's fans, or a boccie lesson.

 Then again, I've really never played boccie -- it might be fun.     


Sunday, May 29, 2011

Loving Downpour

"Marvellous lovingkindness." -- Psalm 17:7

Spurgeon says, "It is impossible to doubt the sincerity of [Our Heavenly Father's] charity, for there is a bleeding heart stamped upon the face of all His benefactions.  He giveth liberally and upbraideth not.  Not one hint that we are burdensome to Him; not one cold look for His poor pensioners; but He rejoices in His mercy, and presses us to His bosom while He is pouring out His life for us."

Even the most sacred and generous of earthly relationships -- the love of parent for child, or soulmate for soulmate -- becomes wearisome.  To upbraid means to reprimand harshly.  On our best day we cannot say we give "liberally and upbraideth not."  Without so much as a weary sigh.  Without a thought for the seemingly perpetual needs of others.  Without a look of disbelief or disgust.  Without a harsh word.  Without a cross tone.

 And with sincerity.  How often do we outwardly contribute, but inwardly seethe, or grumble the grumble of the petulant -- forced into obligation? Let our prayer today be that we rejoice in our giving.  We pour out on others the love that Our Saviour has poured out on us, the love Our Lord pours out daily so that we may overflow that love to others --  sincerely, joyfully, liberally, continually!

These Feet Were Made for Giving

Haggai 1:1-11(ESV)

1 In the second year of Darius the king, in the sixth month, on the first day of the month, the word of the LORD came by the hand of Haggai the prophet to Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Joshua the son of Jehozadak, the high priest: 2"Thus says the LORD of hosts: These people say the time has not yet come to rebuild the house of the LORD." 3Then the word of the LORD came by the hand of Haggai the prophet, 4 "Is it a time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses, while this house lies in ruins? 5Now, therefore, thus says the LORD of hosts: Consider your ways. 6 You have sown much, and harvested little. You eat, but you never have enough; you drink, but you never have your fill. You clothe yourselves, but no one is warm. And he who earns wages does so to put them into a bag with holes.
7"Thus says the LORD of hosts: Consider your ways. 8Go up to the hills and bring wood and build the house, that I may take pleasure in it and that I may be glorified, says the LORD. 9 You looked for much, and behold, it came to little. And when you brought it home, I blew it away. Why? declares the LORD of hosts. Because of my house that lies in ruins, while each of you busies himself with his own house. 10Therefore the heavens above you have withheld the dew, and the earth has withheld its produce. 11And I have called for a drought on the land and the hills, on the grain, the new wine, the oil, on what the ground brings forth, on man and beast, and on all their labors."

I know I included the link to this Scripture and printed it out as well; I know it seems redundant.  That's because I am awed by just how important this is.  Both the Old and New Testaments talk about the firstfruits, the "tenth," God's portion and provision, but read this Scripture again.  If this passage doesn't make it clear that God deserves, demands, needs to get His first, no passage does.  God is so worthy.  God gives us whatever it is we have, and yet we will never know blessing if we do not put Him first.  Do you see -- "How can you spend so much money on home improvements or the latest home theater, and deny God His due?"  "How can you go to Shady Maple, or Texas Roadhouse, or Moshulu, or buy the finest steak when that money first belongs to God?"  "What is your clothing budget?  15%?  20%?  What is your tithe?"

I don't believe God begrudges us fun, or lavish gifts, or indulgences.  Pedicures make me very happy.  But if my pedicures are at God's expense, i.e. money that should have been placed in the offering on Sunday, there will be consequences.  Is God waiting to run me over with a bus the second I step out in my pink polish and flip-flops?  I don't think so, but what about the homeless mother that breaks my heart?  My eyes go right down to my pampered feet and I realize just how selfish I've been.  Or the unexpected bill that arrives in the mail?  My mind goes right to the portion I denied God.  Or the blessing I don't receive?  Yep, first thought?  My tiny little toes.

God is worthy.